Khador Overview 2: Old Theme Redux
Hello, and welcome back to the second article in our series on Khador. After taking a quick look at the old themes last time out, I had planned on jumping straight onto the new shizz, but a few different people asked for advice on how to build the pair without access to the new toys, so I’ve decided to delay that and take a slightly deeper dive into some of the old stuff. Enjoy!
I will start right off by saying that I think that Vlad2 Wolves of Winter is the strongest list in faction. It has good coverage, is the sort of list that has a big impact on paper and allows you to telegraph what your opponent will drop in some circumstances, and picks up a number of important things (including the sorts of spray-heavy lists that people often write to counter Doom Reavers). Here’s my current version:
Being a point down but having a perfect list is peak Ben aesthetic -Ed
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to build the pair out from here, because that’s what I think we should be doing. You could substitute other Wolves of Winter ‘casters ( Sorscha1, Old Witch2, etc.) but they have two disadvantages: They should probably lose to Infernals, because of Anathema from placing a Desolator and their inability to control Desolator spray angles, and while they both have versions of shooting protection, the type of gunline most common at the moment is almost always bringing a lot of sprays which get around Windstorm/Fog of War, whereas Wind Blast can, again, control these. If you do make this switch just consider that there’s a few more things that you might need to worry about for your offlist.
Now, onto our problems. In no particular order, here are the things that I’m worried about with Vlad2:
- Good Harbinger players with a Judicator and some Idrian Skirmishers (it’s playable but slightly rough)
- Flame in the Darkness lists (specifically those with at least one Legion of Lost Souls and two Thamarite Archons, which should be all of them because these are the best models in that theme. Tune in to the next article in two weeks to hear me rave about them)
- Gunlines that bring a lot of accurate small-arms fire ( Sons of the Tempest, Gravediggers)
- Circle lists with speed buffed Storm Raptors, and also potentially Krueger2 /Wurmwood in Bones of Orboros (I never got to test it but I think these might have been playable)
Taking that list, it’s clear that the most important thing to cover will be Flame in the Darkness – the theme is very common at the moment, far more than the other lists presented. After that, we probably want to deal with Circle, Harbinger, and then these small-arms gunlines in that order. With this in mind, I’m going to present a list or two in each theme.
Only one list to talk about here. After I planned this article out, I chatted with Sven Dosch, who won the WTC Solo Masters with Sorscha3 in 2018, about what a Sorscha3 list would look like in 2020. We came up with this:
I have… opinions about the lack of Demolition Corps in this list.
I’m not gonna dive too much into why we made the choices we made, but we ended up with something that I don’t hate, and will probably test at some point (maybe with some Demolition Corps squeezed in somewhere). Returning to our four target matchups:
- We’re good into the small arms gunlines. These lists often don’t have a great way to handle our high armour.
- We’re bad into Harbinger. Menite Archons can ruin our day, and we don’t have any answer at all for Martyrdom save for two Strike Tankers. That one’s a no.
- We have something pretty playable into Circle. Krueger2 may still give us issues but we will have a game.
- The big one – I don’t think this will work into Flame in the Darkness. We have Covering Fire, sure, and can kill a decent-ish amount of infantry. The feat is good, sure. The problem is that the most prevalent ‘casters in the theme, Stryker2 and Fiona, can both work around these. Fiona can simply trade feats, and after that’s done she still hits really hard, out-threats us and can easily get to important pieces. Stryker2, on the other hand, threats so atrociously far that it shouldn’t be too difficult for a good Stryker2 player to simply force an early feat from us, back up while still creating a huge amount of pressure with his threat range, and then go next turn. I don’t think either of these is unwinnable and I think that they’re matchups where the onus to win will be on tour opponent, but that list should have too much in the tank if the opponent is good. I’d probably say it’s a 45-48%er for Sorscha, which isn’t ideal, but is better than I rate Vlad’s chances when we have to contend with Thamarite Archons shredding Doom Reavers and Legion of Lost Souls having easy triggers for Blood-Bound.
The upshot of that is that we have a good list, we solve our issue with getting shot somewhat, but the coverage isn’t perfect.
Jaws of the Wolf
Man, how the mighty have fallen. The problem with Jaws into our targets is that I just don’t see how a bunch of warjacks, even Khador warjacks, can actually stand up to the damage output of Flames in the Darkness. Still, we fiddled with Karchev for a bit, and the fact that we’re in an infantry meta means that I don’t feel awful about only bringing a Widowmaker Marksman to trigger Road to War, which is nice.
'jacks, baby, ‘jacks, baby, list is a Midlund drought
I’m not going to talk too much about this. The premise is pretty simple; we’ve managed to get seven heavies, which is a good number but one less than I’d like. Alexia1, however, fixes so many scenario problems that I think it’s worth it. We get Sorscha0 too, which is hot, and we don’t have to worry about Pathfinder so we can bin the Kodiak.
- We obviously don’t care about small arms gunlines, so that’s a big tick.
- We can play the world’s most boring game into Harbinger, and maybe win it, but honestly who wants to play that? I think it’s probably a 48% depending on build, but the nice thing is that we’re better into the builds that Vlad2 is worse into, which is something at least.
- We can run over Tharn/Storm Raptor lists, and our Krueger2 player has just said this:
Don’t ask what Ben’s weird hankering is for, nor the origin of Paul’s nickname -Ed.
- Flame in the Darkness is still problematic. The theme hits REALLY hard, y’all. I will say that I think this can do it, especially against the ‘casters without a damage buff. Stryker2, also, may just not have enough stuff to grind through the metal, because his kit is very much just ‘hit things’, but I do feel that we should lose to Fiona. I am, however, gonna say that I think this will at least have a game into everything that is on par with Sorscha3’s, and probably better into some stuff here. Again, the nice thing is that the Flames lists that are good into Vlad2 are the ones with two Thamarite Archons, which will be pretty poor into this.
- In general this list has a completely different archetype to Vlad2, which means that the random things Vlad2 struggles with are more likely to be covered here, too. I think this rates above Sorscha3 in terms of coverage, but lord does it look tedious.
EDIT: I’ve revised the list I originally posted on the basis of some (correct) criticism. We’re bringing Kodiaks; both for the presence if we go first, and because having a way to clear ourselves off before activating is useful. The second unit of Eliminators are probably more useful than another Power Booster in the long run. An alternative approach would be to cut Alexia1 for a unit of Widowmakers, but I like this less, because a) I think Alexia1 is a really strong scenario piece that we need, and b) the Widowmakers are both somewhat vulnerable to Thamarite Archons and unable to do too much work without triggering Vengeance unnecessarily.
Legion of Steel
So lets talk about Zerkova1. This is obviously not her best theme (more on that next time) but I have a soft spot for her in this theme, having seen Jim Gradwell terrorise the UK scene with it for two years. Here’s our list:
Ah yes, beta Flame.
Hard hitting Countercharge behind clouds is always good. Uhlans are the only actually good Iron Fang unit, and double min cavalry is the connoisseur’s choice. We have enough boys, Alexia2 is sweet, and 3 heavies make this list really punchy, especially in combination with a theme that hits hard baseline. I do genuinely think this list is good, y’all. It is, however, about to fall apart in coverage.
- Small-arms fire: We’re good here, but only as long as they don’t have cloud outs. If they do, we could get hosed, although a Zerkova1 feat and an aggressive gameplan might save us.
- Circle: Worse than Vlad, probably. Again, a Zerkova1 feat and an aggressive gameplan might save us, but we’re playing a similar archetype except without access to models with Spell Ward, so Krueger2 and Wurmwood will be a bad time. The clouds might help against the former, but it’s still a tough sell.
- Harbinger: Lol, no. No solutions to Martyrdom, no hit buffs for our infantry. It’s gonna go very bad very fast.
- Flame in the Darkness: Also a no. We suffer against the same stuff as Vlad2, and don’t solve it at all.
Overall, a good list, but its best days are behind it now.
Winter Guard Kommand
Two lists here. First, I dug back into the archive to find Chris Davies’ Stalingrad list from WTC 2018 and tweaked it slightly:
50% of the time, you hit Kreoss1 in a trench and win every time
Things this list does well: have lots of boys, hit hard. Also assassinate Kreoss1, apparently. Things this list also does well: get murdered by Thamarite Archons, get murdered by Lightning Storm, get murdered by Storm Raptors, fail to solve Martyrdom. I don’t deny that this is a decent list, but it’s poorly equipped to take the things we need it to take, so I’m going to move swiftly on to talk about a different WGK archetype – guns. Here’s a Vlad1 list, modified from Team England player Jonathan Clarke’s list from WTC 2019:
If you’re checking your calendar to see if it’s 2018 right now, sadly it isn’t, but I’m game to pretend it is if you are
So, this shoots. It has warjacks that go far. It has two Gun Carriages. The main difference from the previous list is that we have shooting, with signs to make it accurate and Brutal Damage Rocketeers to make it hit hard. The warjacks threat far enough to create a little board control, and Marauders threaten those huge bases that we’ll struggle to shoot down. People aren’t really preparing for gunlines either, which is nice. Let’s move onto our matchups:
- Small arms gunlines: we trade it back, and have a few tanky options with good output. This is obviously very dependent on their exact composition, but I think we have a chance into these sorts of lists.
- Circle: I’m not gonna lie, this feels pretty unplayable. I have no idea how we beat Krueger2, and Wurmwood should be able to just Stranglehold our important models and kill the rest. Pass on that one.
- Harbinger: I’m told this is playable. That was in a pre-Archon world, but the rough terrain spam from our fun carriages is still a problem for her. I do think a good Harbinger player should beat this, but depending on their list composition there’s a winnable game in there with favourable terrain, I think. I’ll say that it’s a like a 46-48, which isn’t perfect but isn’t a dealbreaker.
- Flame in the Darkness: We hose infantry, for sure. Here’s my problem: Thamarites will kill our Winter Guard, and the good ‘casters threat far enough (Stryker2 Feat/Befuddle) to handle our battle engines. The warjacks just aren’t particularly important in the matchup I’m gonna have to say no.
From this, we got two viable options: Sorscha3 and Karchev. Sorscha3 has not perfect but not awful coverage, looks a ton of fun to play, has a cool model. Karchev, however, actually has pretty excellent coverage. Sure it’s not exciting or flashy, and I don’t think I could play this pair without getting bored, but it is, in my opinion good, and probably the right offlist for Vlad2 if we’re only considering the original themes. Tune in next time (in a fortnight) when we complete this series with a look at the new themes and talk about the pair again in the context of having everything available.